Key future themes emerge from DAME 2017 Awards

Now that the results are out it’s interesting to reflect just how many of the Winners, Special Mentions and Nominated products of this year’s DAME Awards are obviously addressing key opportunities and challenges facing the marine industry. 

The DAME Award winner is a great example.

Scanstrut’s RS Venture Connect Conversion Kit is an important step forward in making sailing much more accessible for the disabled community. By taking a stock dinghy already in widespread use and adding a rapidly fitted kit of parts, Scanstrut has immediately offered those with disabilities not only a bigger fleet of boats that they can use, but also the chance to enjoy experiences that are common with able-bodied sailors. I know from my involvement as a trustee of the Wetwheels Foundation that the latter is extremely valuable. I am also aware that a surprisingly high percentage of the population of any country has a physical or mental disability of some kind.

Providing more widespread means of getting afloat in exciting and stimulating ways for the disabled community should be a priority, particularly given the ageing population of many western nations.

Remaining on the subject of greater accessibility, it was fascinating to observe the judging process of the CrewWatcher personal manoverboard device, that won the Lifesaving and Safety Equipment Category. The Jury members were immediately attracted to the user interface on the smartphone to which the device connects – because it was easily understood and worked without a manual. They were also pleased to find the product itself worked straight out of the box, without explanation. At its price point there is also no excuse for boaters not to increase their personal safety afloat.

Making boating possible for more people in the future is the exact philosophy that will need to be adopted by all manufacturers. Not because people are less intelligent and cannot read a manual, but because they are time poor and often also have very short attention spans due to the many demands on their attention in a multichannel, multimedia world.

The third area I’d like to highlight in this year’s DAME Awards is the environment. Take the Seabin V5, which won the Marina Equipment, Boatyard Equipment and Construction Tools and Materials category. Not unlike a swimming pool filter in concept, but designed to sit in the calm waters of havens and marinas, the Seabin should make a contribution to dealing one of the biggest threats to water and wildlife by removing up to 1.5kg a day of floating debris.

Meanwhile, as a part of the ongoing series of developments we are seeing in electric propulsion, Oceanvolt’s Servoprop cleverly provides a solution for creating regenerative energy from a feathering propeller, by adding a controllable pitch function. This is of course the cleanest energy of all, yielded from a yacht’s sails.

  

What products do you think we will need to address future opportunities and challenges and do they exist already? Please let me have your views by commenting here.